Posted on May 16, 2019 by Kate Halsall
This is the second part of our series for Mental Health Awareness Week. If you missed Emily’s blog, click here. This week I did a presentation on body image to one of the local companies in the area and I wanted to share what we discussed. So let’s talk body image – what it is and what you can do about it.
I asked the group what they thought body image meant. The majority of people responded with “our perception of our bodies” – and in a nutshell, that’s exactly it! I found a great definition online which I used in the presentation:
- Perceptual body image is how you SEE your body
- Affective body image is how you FEEL about your body
- Cognitive body image is how you THINK about your body
- Behavioural body image is the way you BEHAVE as a result of the above.
What Can You Do About It?
I asked the group to write on post it notes how they were feeling about their own body image. I specifically asked them to write one negative and two positive things. Sometimes I think we get so hung up on the negatives that we forget about the fact that there are actually tonnes of positives! There were really mixed results from this, which lead nicely to this “what can you do about it” discussion.
- Stop comparing yourself to others. You are you. Everyone is an individual. We are all different. Everyone views themselves in a different way to how you would view them. I’m sure we all agree that the role of media (both print and social media) in influencing objectification, body dissatisfaction, body dysmorphia and eating disorders is still huge – and can act as a trigger for both negative and positive body image. But now we’re also dealing with a selfie world and with that comes body shaming and an ability to receive direct comments about our pictures.
- Focus on what you can change and control. Let’s face facts – you CANNOT change your age, your height, your body type or what people think about you. What you can control is how to get the best out of your body type/shape and how you deal with worrying about other peoples perceptions of you. The easiest place to start with either of these things is by focusing on the positives. For example I don’t look like how most people would think a Personal Trainer should look; but I can deadlift my own body weight! Remember – no one knows your story and your journey, so let them judge you how they want – they don’t know the real you! With regards to body type, I don’t know anyone who doesn’t want to change something about their body! Make positive changes to deal with it – even if it’s just moving more or eating differently. Which leads nicely to my last point:
- Healthy outlook and behaviours. It’s easier to lead a balanced lifestyle with healthier attitudes and practices relating to food, sleep and exercise when you are in tune with (and respond to) the needs of your body.
The take home message? Well, I ended the presentation with Meghan Trainor’s “I Love Me” song…..an I have to echo it : love yourself.